Friday, 20 February 2009

Archive: Irish Folklore - Bríd Mahon

Irish Folklore
Bríd Mahon

I've been wandering the internet looking for some good sources on folklore and practices (mostly practices, rather than folklore) and I spotted this book going cheap. After looking up the author and seeing that she's a well-respected expert on Irish folklife and traditional folktales, it seemed worth a punt.

I was hoping for a good heftty tome to arrive, but alas, what I ended up with was more like a compact and bijou glossy booklet, offering a fairly basic introduction to some of Ireland's better known tales and lore. It's good for what it is and it offers some tidbits about fairy lore and customs associated with weddings and baptisms and the like, but overall there just wasn't enough in there to really grab me.

It's very Cat'lic in tone, as a friend would probably say, so there's a lot of St Patrick and the miracles of St Brigid alongside retellings of tales like The Second Battle of Mag Tured. Written by an Irish native it gives a good feel for how the lore is taught and known in Ireland today, and the retellings of the tales give a good basic introduction to them along with the mythological landscape. It's lacking in depth, but it's a straightforward and easy read.

For someone starting out, or wanting to refresh their memories, then I think it's a good place to start if things like the Rees brothers' Celtic Heritage or Proinsias MacCana's Celtic Mythology are still a bit of a daunting prospect, but it's not nearly as useful.